We have all made comparisons before, at least in closed circles. If so, simile is something one would not have missed even if they tried. Oxford References define simile as, "An explicit comparison between two different things, actions, or feelings, using the words ‘as’ or ‘like’". Therefore to put it more simply, a simile is a literary device used to draw comparisons in English.
But let us recap for a second. What do we mean by a literary device? A literary device or a poetic device is a tool to evoke greater than normal expressions, emotions, descriptions, variations during writing. Literary devices help highlight on important points, puts humor where humor is needed, and at times convey emotions better than simple, direct language. There are hundreds of literary devices in the English language: simile, metaphor, irony, paradox, personification,
What does simile mean in writing?
Comparisons can be of many types. For example, if I said, she is the Victoria of Texas, what I mean is she is acting like the queen of Texas. Both these sentences end up meaning the same, but in the former, there is an added reference to Queen Victoria, who, if the reader is unaware, can cause them to not understand the meaning at all.
So what is the fundamental difference between these two sentences?
The first makes an implicit, or indirect comparison, while the latter makes an explicit or direct comparison. We can safely say the latter sentence, which uses the word 'like' is a simile.
Simile can be found in all kinds of writing. One can take up n number of writings or content and is sure to spot not one but many similes in it. Starting from newspaper articles, political speeches, everyday speech, literary works, poetry, advertisements, mobiles apps, website articles and many more, all use similes. It is the quickest and easiest ways to make a comparison.
A great simile uses fewer words to express and evoke emotion, give compelling description, and in general gives greater meaning to a written work.
What is a simile in simple terms?
A simile in simple terms is a figurative language that uses just a few words to connect and compare two dissimilar things for the effect of describing things better.
Why do we use similes in writing?
The purpose of simile in writing is to make comparison between unlike things to express things better. For example, rather than saying, I want my soup very hot, one could say, I want my soup as hot as the sun.
In the second sentence, one can understand that the person likes their soup very hot and spicy in an expressive and descriptive language.
What is a simile vs metaphor?
Simile and metaphor are a literal entity used for making comparison between unrelated things for the purpose of better descriptive language. Both simile and metaphor are literary devices making figurative comparisons.
While metaphors make indirect comparisons, similes make explicit comparisons using the words 'like' and 'as'.
Examples of Simile
Common Examples of Simile in Everyday Sentences
She has a red hat that looks like a giant ocean crab.
Your eyes shine like the seven moons of Jupiter.
The kitten jumped like a rabbit.
She is the Albert Einstein of Sri Lanka.
He is the Shakespeare of Bengal.
Her face felt as cold as ice.
The new spectacles were as light as feather.
He dressed up like a doll.
Famous Examples of Simile in Literature
Literature employs the largest amount of similes. Newspaper reports, blogs, and other written content, also use similes liberally. Songs, essays and all other creative writing use simile for comparing and contrasting. Let us look at some simile examples below.
“Hoisting high that olive stake with its stabbing point,
Straight into the monster’s eye the rammed it hard—
I drove my weight on it from above and bored it home
as a shipwright bores his beam with a shipwright’s drill
that men below, whipping the strap back and forth, whirl
and the drill keeps twisting faster, never stopping—
so we seized our stake with its fiery tip
and bored it round and round in the giant’s eye”
The Odyssey, Homer
The quote describes the moment of attacking the monster with a olive branch, and how hard the stake was stricken. Homer compares it to a ship builder building ship, which is supposed to be a work requiring huge strength and force.
A Red, Red Rose
“O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.”
'A Red, Red Rose', Robert Burns
The poet compares his love with a blooming red rose, a sweet melody, that is, things that are related to passion and romace, to express the intensity of his love. These are exaggeration similes.
All's Well That Ends Well
“As fit as ten groats is for the hand of an attorney, as your French crown for your taffeta punk, as Tib’s rush for Tom’s fore-finger, as pancake for Shrove-Tuesday, a morris for May-day, as the nail to his hole, the cuckold to his horn, as a scolding queen to a wrangling knave, as the nun’s lip to the friar’s mouth; nay, as the pudding to his skin.”
All's Well That Ends Well, William Shakespeare
The above lines are spoken by the Clown in Act II, Scene ii. The Clown justifies his ability to give answers to the Countess. The lines contain periodic references which were relevant in times of Shakespeare.
“Who builds his hope in air of your fair looks,
Lives like a drunken sailor on a mast;
Ready, with every nod, to tumble down
Into the fatal bowels of the deep.”
Richard III, William Shakespeare
Lines are spoken by Hastings in a discussion with other Lords about the coronation of Edward V. He describes unrealistic hopes using similes of irresponsible men on ships.
To Kill A Mocking Bird
“The Radley Place fascinated Dill. In spite of our warnings and explanations it drew him as the moon draws water, but drew him no nearer than the light-pole on the corner, a safe distance from the Radley gate.”
To Kill A Mocking Bird, Harper Lee
A simple tide analogy has been used by Harper Lee to describe Dill's fascination with The Radlet Place.
Gone With the Wind
“Why he should have captivated Scarlett when his mind was a stranger to hers she did not know. The very mystery of him excited her curiosity like a door that had neither lock nor key.”
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Margaret Mitchell describes mystery in her heroine Scarlett using examples of similes like door which has neither a key nor a lock, and therefore wonder what to do with it.
“Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free”
'London, 1802', William Wordsworth
Wordsworth describes the soul using various similes.
Romeo and Juliet
“O, speak again, bright angel! For thou art
As glorious to this night, being o’er my head,
As is a winged messenger of heaven”
Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
Shakespeare evokes the said angel using divine comparisons.
To sum up, simile is a figure of speech used for comparing two ideas which may or may not be related to each other. Similes are different that metaphors even though both are literary devices employed for drawing comparison. Similes are used widely in all spheres of life, by writers, politicians, comedians, journalists, songwriters, and so on for better writing and rich imagery.